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February 6, 2010

When it’s cold, wet and dreary outside, there’s nothing better than a hot comforting stew to blow away the cobwebs. All you need is an inexpensive cut of braising beef or lamb with whatever vegetables to casserole, me and my boyfriend paired shoulder of lamb with carrots, celeriac, potatoes and peppers. The trick is to slow cook it on the hob for several hours on a low heat in a full bodied red wine such as merlot or claret with enough beef/lamb stock to cover the meat and vegetables while it simmers. The vegetables should be added about an hour before the end of cooking time. By the time you’re ready to eat, you’ll be chomping at the bit when you lift the lid off your pot and the aromas hit your nostrils. All the flavours of the meat and wine and stock should have melded together to form a wonderful juicy stew with melt in the mouth meaty chunks. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Here’s the recipe I used but you should experiment with different meat and vegetable combinations:

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • Fresh herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, roughly chopped
  • 400 mL full bodied red wine
  • 500 mL lamb/beef stock
  • Half a celeriac, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled, sliced thickly
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Brown the meat in a large casserole pot on a medium heat. No butter/olive oil is needed as there is enough fat from the lamb shoulder to do this. If you’re using beef, use butter to brown the meat. Do this in batches and use a slotted spoon to tranfer the meat chunks to a plate.
  2. There should be sufficient fat to fry the onions till soft. Add more butter/olive oil if required. Fry the garlic for several minutes taking care not to burn.
  3. Return the meat to the pot and mix the meat with the onions and garlic.
  4. Sprinkle the flour onto the meat and mix so that it soaks up the juices. This should help to thicken up the juices during the cooking process.
  5. Add the red wine, bouquet garni, seasoning and handful of fresh herbs, mix and leave to simmer gently with the lid on the pot.
  6. Cook for 2 hrs, stirring occasionally.
  7. If preferred, the peppers can be grilled/roasted in advance to bring out the flavour and the skin peeled off before cutting them into chunks.
  8. Add the vegetables, top up with stock so that it just covers them and leave to simmer for about another hour.
  9. Season as required and stir occasionally. The stew should have reduced to a rich tasting gooeyness.
  10. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes to soak up those yummy juices!
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